red-flower-bud-starting-to-blossom-600x600Can we fail if we're trying?

Surely, we're not trying to fail.

And, yet, as we try, we encounter failures. A service isn't worth the price. A decision feels wrong. A resource just doesn't come through. An idea doesn't work. A solution causes more problems.

We speak in anger, leaving us in regrets. We fume in silence, leaving us with recriminations. We lose money. We waste time. We forget family member's birthdays. We eat Doritos and Oreos for breakfast. We skip the work-out.

All these failures have a common theme: We actually were trying to feel better, to win, to overcome, to keep up, to succeed, to love, to be heard. All failures occurred as we attempted to make it through our day.

In other words, all failures happened as we did our best to be courageous.

So, if we didn't strive to fail, if we simply tried to not be a coward, can we still be failures? And, if we're doing our best to make it from the time we get up to the time we lay back down, are we failing?

The only failure comes when we stop trying. When we don't give ourselves a chance to have fruit and cereal tomorrow for breakfast, to make that lunch-time work-out, to send a Happy Belated Birthday card, to use a different service, to find a new resource, to speak our minds in certain circumstances while understanding others require our silence.

As we try, we fail. As we fail, we learn. As we learn, we do better. As we do better, we improve. As we improve, we succeed. And, as we succeed, we become a better version of ourselves--a kinder, more forgiving, accepting person.

So, the only way to become better is to try, knowing that the failure we encounter as we try is the stepping stone to success. It's simply a part of the journey.

Failure is not the final destination in our journey. It's actually how we begin.

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Wonderful post, Denise. This is what all of our lives are about, every day.


I encounter failure everyday. I get up and start planning. Planning almost never works out. Dad - specially - needs for attention, or more help, or is more agitated and my plans go down the drain.\r\n\r\nSo plans just don't work out. They're mostly postponed. \r\n\r\nBreakfast never works all together. If I've been up during the night Mum and kids let me sleep in. If Mum's been up - with or without me - we let her sleep in. If the kids are at school, they're just up and of, leaving us to sleep in. \r\n\r\nDays: doctors, nurses, shopping, dogs and cat, making lunch, making dinner, cleaning the house... Sometimes a walk, a quick coffee with a friend or boyfriend, and then reading and writing. \r\n\r\nI think of failure everyday. Sometimes tears break loose. Sometimes I can't even believe in tomorrow. But then, a few hours sleep, a private talk with my pillow, and up again for more. ;)\r\n\r\nWe have help in the morning. Mum is still very autonomous. She doesn't need help with help personnal hygiene, she does crochet (has done since the age os nine), she knits, she listens to music and every morning she goes out for a coffee with her group of friends. We have help for Dad. Dad doesn't know me most of the time, but when it comes to personnal hygiene, he always kicks me out. :) So we have a geriatric service - already friends - they come over to bathe him. \r\n\r\nThe rest of the day we make up us it goes along... Trying not to stress when things don't work out as planned. There's really no use in it. Just gives us the opportunity to figure out what went wrong yesterday; what to do better today.


One of my favorite quotes about failure comes from Henry Petroski, PhD, PE, in an interview published in <i>Architecture Boston</i> (May/June 2007): \"If we copy success, the eventual result is going to be failure. We don't often understand fully why successful designs work. And they often mask potential failures. No matter how closely we follow successful models, designing something new involves new conditions that require changes in the design.\"\r\n\r\nHe was talking about engineering, but I think his point has broad application -- especially in caregiving, when we're dealing with a constantly moving target. Both cases call for viewing failure as something that is ultimately constructive, because of how it informs and teaches us.